Occupy Miami is a nascent local movement whose primary issue is the corrupting influence of corporations on U.S. politics. An offshoot of New York-based Occupy Wall Street — which has attracted international attention and featured police violence and mass arrests — Occupy Miami met for the first time on Saturday Oct. 1, at Bayfront Park. The updates below, by Jared Goyette (JG) and Matt Preira (MP), were posted in real time from Occupy Miami’s third protest/assembly, on Oct. 15.
Sunday, 10:15 a.m.
There is a Facebook event page for a fourth general assembly meeting today at Government Center from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Sunday, 4:02 a.m.
Bruce Wayne Stanley, one of Occupy Miami’s most outspoken participants, says there are 22 tents set up at Government Center and between 50 and 80 people are spending the night there. “Not all FIU students,” he says.
JG: A small group of FIU students has set up tents to the west of Government Center, in effect commencing the occupation. Charles Heck, member of the Occupy Miami media group: “I would say that the occupation has started, fait accompli. There are people who I think are going home and preparing to come back this evening.” Heck also said that the encampment will serve as a “staging ground” for occupations in other part of the city.
Not long ago, a few police on bicycles rode by and met with some of the protesters who were setting up camp. The cops shook hands with the protesters and moved on. No perceptible tension.
This is likely the last update from today’s gathering.
FIU graduate student Mamyrah Dougé-Prosper explains why she is taking part in Occupy Miami: “… you have all these wars being waged and all these invasions and occupations — in a different way — of other supposedly sovereign nations, and … they are cutting back on funds for social programs and education for American citizens and residents. That’s a big problem.” More from Dougé-Prosper:
Protester Charles Heck, 35, on where the location of the occupation might be: “Mainly [we’ve discussed] Government Center, where we’re at now. And there’s been some discussion of city properties that are up for sale that have not been sold yet to private actors. One of the problems we’ve been running into is we don’t have any public spaces anymore. The city keeps selling them off. The bay front is good for meetings but you can’t do an occupation there.”
A group of FIU students has decided to start the occupation tonight.
Activist Mo Tarafa: “Everything that’s done here is direct democracy … it’s interesting to watch democracy develop at its infant stages. It’s a really beautiful thing … ”
A small group is considering staying the night at the government center. It’s unclear how many people will join them if they do.
JG: A speaker just pointed out that homeless people also hang out at the government center, and that if the protesters choose this spot they will have to coexist.
JG: Occupy Miami is gathered under the metro rail at Government Center in downtown Miami. The discussion is about where to occupy. Three gatherings in, perhaps this should have been determined by now. Thoughts?
Police estimate that, at one point, there were between 800 and 1,000 people. Now, largely because of the weather, the crowd has dwindled to a tightly packed several hundred.
JG: With the rain, the crowd has thinned out. Some families that had joined the largely student crowd leave. The group shifts direction again, seeking shelter by a group of trees next to the building.
Over half the people left with that last bit of cold, wind driven rain, but those that remain seem to be working themselves into a chanting frenzy … which loses steam. There are a few horns. It sounds very much like a Latin American soccer game. Drums, chants, horns. Has the same festive feel.
Question: how does a group driven by a consensus decision making model make decisions when more than half the people have left? Is there an Occupy quorum?
JG: It has started to pour. Lead by a group of drummers, the crowd moves under the metro rail. The wind is picking up, so their bound to get wet anyway.
One protester explains why he supports Occupy Miami.
This video via Eye On Miami.
Overheard: “I got 99 problems but being rich ain’t one.”
JG: The Occupy Miami protesters have gathered in a tightly packed circle in front of Miami’s government center, with another influx of sign carrying college students joining the noisy, chanting crowd. With the help of several facilitators, the group has begun discussing their next steps, with the goal of deciding when and where the actual occupation will take place.
Alexandra Ricardel protests in front of Goverment Center with Occupy Miami.
JG: Today’s Occupy Miami protests are well underway: A largely young, enthusiastic crowd of several hundred Miami-Dade Citizens have been flanking Biscayne Boulevard for the past hour, holding a multitude of signs decrying a diverse array of issues, grievances and pet causes. The environment, U.S. foreign policy, animal rights, and campaigns for local and national candidates were all represented (amongst many others), orbiting around the central Occupy Wall Street protest narrative against corporate influence on government at all levels. One man I spoke to was holding a giant sign that screamed, “FORGIVE STUDENT DEBT.”
MP: A drum circle has been the protest’s pulse for the past few hours, a polyrhythmic rendition of “We Are The 99%” growing increasingly audible. The bulk of the protest has just begun to march toward Government Center.